Singer Bill Withers Dead at 81

Bill Withers circa 2006
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(Reed Saxon/AP)

Legendary soul singer Bill Withers has died. He was 81 years old. The voice of such iconic classics as "Lean on Me," "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lovely Day" had been battling heart issues, according to a statement from his family. Withers was in Los Angeles at the time of his death.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father,” Withers' family shared in a statement. “A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each “As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”

Born in West Virginia, Withers won three Grammys before he voluntarily walked away from the music industry in the 1980s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Stevie Wonder in 2015.

“I see it as an award of attrition,” Withers told Rolling Stone about the induction in 2015. “What few songs I wrote during my brief career, there ain’t a genre that somebody didn’t record them in. I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia.”

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